Aggravated Relational Aggression Using Police Perpetrated Violence Headline Animator

Aggravated Relational Aggression Using Police Perpetrated Violence

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fair and Full Final Review of Constitutional Claims

For Immediate Release: July 22, 2014

Rutherford Institute Calls on Supreme Court to Prevent Unlawful Detentions, Ensure Prisoners Receive a Fair and Full Final Review of Constitutional Claims

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Citing restrictive legislation, disparate rulings by the various circuit courts, and the Supreme Court’s own unclear guidance, which have all combined to undermine the rights of prisoners to receive a fair and final review of their constitutional claims, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to remove unconstitutional roadblocks faced by state prisoners throughout the country in challenging their convictions in federal court.

In weighing in on the case of Jackie Ray King v. Mary Berghuis, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that the federal courts have conflicting standards for what a person must do to “exhaust” his constitutional claims. Thus, depending on which judicial circuit hears a case, an accused might be subjected to unequal applications of what it means to present or “exhaust” one’s constitutional claim in the state courts. Jackie Ray King v. Mary Berghuis deals with the habeas corpus petition of a Michigan prisoner who was ordered to serve his sentences consecutively, rather than concurrently as agreed to in his plea deal, resulting in an increase of over 30 years in his prison time.

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in King v. Berghuis is available at
“The historical English Writ of habeas corpus has protected the rights of the convicted for hundreds of years, granting them one final opportunity to ensure that justice is indeed being served,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “Given the paramount importance of this right, it is our hope that the Supreme Court will adopt a consistent standard that guarantees all American prisoners a fair and full final review of their constitutional claims.”

Both the U.S. Constitution and federal statutory law allow persons who are in the custody of a state under a criminal conviction to ask the federal courts to review the legality of the confinement and whether a violation of the prisoner’s constitutional rights has occurred. These habeas corpus actions, also known as the “Great Writ,” have for centuries been applied as a bulwark against restraints on liberty resulting from fundamentally flawed criminal convictions. However, Congress has adopted restrictions on the right of prisoners to petition a federal court for relief, including a requirement that an application for habeas corpus shall not be granted unless “[t]he applicant has exhausted the remedies available in the courts of the State[.]” Exhaustion includes the requirement that the prisoner have “fairly presented” the “substance” of his federal constitutional claim to the state courts.

King brought a habeas corpus petition in the federal courts alleging that his agreement to plead guilty was based on a promise that his sentence would be served concurrently with any sentence on another charge, but the state court ordered the sentences be served consecutively, resulting in an increase of over 30 years in his prison time. King argued in state court proceedings that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary and violated the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment, but the state courts ruled against him. When King presented this claim to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, that court refused to hear the merits ruling that King had not fairly presented his federal claim to the state courts because he had not cited a specific Supreme Court decision.

In asking that the U.S. Supreme Court review and overturn the court of appeals’ decision, Rutherford Institute attorneys point to decisions of federal courts around the country showing that there is no consistency in the standard applied in determining whether a prisoner exhausted his federal claim. 

The amicus brief asks the Court to establish a uniform standard for prisoners and attorneys to follow to “ensure that habeas corpus proceedings are not rendered inaccessible to deserving petitioners solely on the basis of inflexible procedural traps.” Attorney Ross W. Bergethon of Atlanta, Georgia, assisted The Rutherford Institute in advancing the arguments in the amicus brief before the Supreme Court.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sentencing Guidelines Need To Be Reformed

When someone commits a crime, the sentence is supposed to be fair and proportional, not cruel and unusual. Yet many prisoners face suffering far beyond what any judge said was appropriate — especially if their medical services are provided by Corizon, a for-profit company.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Prison Tattoo Field Guide

14 Words
The number 14 on this man's right temple represents the "14 Words" of the white nationalist David Lane, which encompass the supremacist philosophy: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children" On the left temple, the number 88 stands for "Heil Hitler," H being the eighth letter of the alphabet. The 88 is also representative of an 88-word passage from Hitler's Mein Kampf, which inspired Lane to write his own manifesto.
The interlocking triangles on the left cheek are a Norse symbol known as the Valknut that represents the idea of dying in battle. It is worn by Neo-Nazi and Aryan supremacy groups to show a readiness to fight and die for the cause of ensuring prosperity for the white race.

One of the most common criminal tattoos is the teardrop underneath the eye. The most widely accepted meaning of the teardrop is the wearer has killed someone — this is reported to have originated among the Chicano gangs of California. The teardrop can also mean that the wearer has served a long prison sentence, or is mourning the loss of a family member. A clear teardrop, like the one pictured, can mean that the wearer has committed an attempted murder, or alternatively, that a close friend was killed and the wearer is seeking revenge.

Clock With No Hands
The clock with no hands symbolizes "doing time" and is representative of the meaninglessness of time to an inmate serving a lengthy, or lifelong, prison sentence.

Three Dots
The three dots tattoo, worn either on the hand or near the eye, represents the phrase "Mi Vida Loca," or "My Crazy Life." The tattoo can be found on many Hispanic inmates and does not necessarily mean affiliation with any particular gang. The three dots can also carry religious meaning, representing the holy trinity.
Five Dots
The five dots, or quincunx, tattoo is representative of time spent in prison. The four outer dots symbolize prison walls, while the inner dot is the inmate. This tattoo is most commonly worn on the hand between the thumb and forefinger and can be found in both European and American prisons. Among American gangs, the five dot tattoo can also signify affiliation with gangs that identify with the number five, such as the the People Nation gangs, who use the five-pointed star and five-pointed crown as symbols.

Five Point Crown
The five point crown is a symbol of the Latin Kings gang which originated in 1940s Chicago. The ALKN on this tattoo stands for Almighty Latin King Nation. Other tattoos may have the acronym ALKQN, with the Q standing for Queen. Latin Kings belong to the People Nation network of gangs, and thus identify themselves with the number five, using a five-pointed star hand symbol as well as the crown seen in this tattoo and in Latin King graffiti.

MS 13
The MS 13 on this man's back stands for Mara Salvatrucha, a large Latino gang notorious for its ruthlessness and violence. MS 13 originated in Los Angeles, but now operates across the United States as well as in Mexico, Central America and Canada. In addition to markings on the body, MS 13 members often sport intricate face tattoos.
La Eme
The two Ms in this tattoo stand for Mexican Mafia, or La Eme. La Eme is one of the most powerful and highly organized gangs in the American prison system, and controls most of the Chicano gangs in Southern California. La Eme holds an alliance with the Aryan Brotherhood, who are mutual enemies of Nuestra Familia.

SUR 13
Sure�os, meaning Southerners in Spanish, are a Southern California gang that is controlled by the Mexican Mafia. The 13 in this tattoo stands for the letter M, the 13th letter of the alphabet.
Rivals of the Sure�os, the Norte�os of Northern California and the Pacific Northwestern states are controlled by Nuestra Familia, the chief rivals of the Mexican Mafia. The sombrero symbol in this tattoo is the same sombrero symbol used by Nuestra Familia members.

Aryan Brotherhood
The shamrock is a common image in tattoos worn by members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. Though many tattoos include the letters AB to display affiliation, some may instead use 12, representing the first and second letters of the alphabet. The number of the beast, 666, is also commonly used in Aryan Brotherhood tattoos.

Sig Runes
Nazi symbols, such as Swastikas and Sig runes, are also frequently seen on tattoos worn by members of the Aryan Brotherhood and other white supremacist gangs. During World War II, the runes were worn as insignia by the SS of the Third Reich.

The two mask tattoos seen in this photo are also a common theme in prison tattoos. With a generally accepted meaning of "play now, pay later," or "laugh now, cry later," the theatrical masks can be seen on prisoners regardless of gang affiliation.

To See More, Click Here

Monday, April 30, 2012

Women's Abuse At Oregon Prison

Abuse of women inmates at Oregon's Coffee Creek prison has gone on for years. Blind spots in the prison complex provide lucrative quarters for male staff to sexually abuse women. Although lawsuits are going on, the behavior will persist. Read more about  the situation at abusing women who are incarcerated.

Although the state admits to no wrongdoing, the practice and policy will go on as long as men are working at women's prisons.